Monday, December 8, 2014

Cast This Way

This post does not reflect the opinions of Hagen-Renaker nor its employees. The following is my opinion and interpretation of the submitted examples. This disclaimer is necessary because the established stance is that HR's Designers Workshop molds were never altered between Monrovia and San Dimas. 

The awkward grazing pose of a young, leggy animal is captured in the Hagen-Renaker "Scamper" mold. Designed by Maureen Love in 1953, as best as we can guess, while the stickers read "1953" on the Colts. The Handbook says, "Spring 1954 through Fall 1958". As I do not have access to the 1953 order forms, I can't check if this was the actual release year. The mold was released in brown gloss with character eyes, brown matte, palomino gloss with character eyes, palomino matte, and white matte. I did find a date error.

The Handbook indicates that the white color was only made 1958, while it is only present on the order forms for 1954.

In 1958, the offered colors are brown (sometimes collectors call this rose gray) and palomino.

Not only does the Scamper mold change genders, but there are corresponding changes in the mane and tail. These consistent-with-gender mold differences support the theory that entire mold reworks occurred, and that the Fillies aren't just "flattened" boys, or individually altered while wet clay. They were cast this way.

Tails go from curly and lumpy with a defined tailbone on Colts, to smoothed outline and longer sweeps carved in the tail detail on the later Fillies. How do we know Fillies were later? Because there are no known Filly mold version with character eyes, and the 2 varieties of stickers found on Fillies date them late 1950's to early 60's.

<  Fillies           Colts  >          

Fillies have longer detail sweeps but smoother outline.    

Both Fillies. Photos courtesy Marcia Miner.

The Fillies' mane detail in outline is broken up, rather than the smooth, continuous wall of the Colts'. One can spy a Filly immediately by the knob in the mane, even present on less-detailed examples.

          <  Chicks           Dudes  >

< Lass                            Lad >

It's a Girl!
No idea about photo source, sorry.

It's another Girl! Owned by Jayne Kubas.
This one is unusual, as it has the engraved © HR in the inner thigh.
It isn't seen on Fillies often, and never on Colts.

gloss Test

Did you know that she has two names? 
Scamp and Scamper, both Fillies, both stickers date to late 1950's.

Here is the data I gathered on some Scampers and a copy: 

Updated with completed file.

The term "C Eyes" in the chart refers to "character eyes", which was a decorating style on many DW animals in early Monrovia.

Various character eyes, and outlined nostrils and lips on the gray Tony.
Only the glossy regular run Scampers are known to have character eyes.

The Japan copy was produced by Enterprise Exclusive. It is from an entire set of copies of the HR Morgan foals: Scamper, Clover, and Roughneck. The other models in the chart, with the exception of the EE Japan, all have lash-dot eyes with eye-white. The Japan lacks the eye-white decoration.

                      <  Oddity                       Japan EE copy  >         

What is this Oddity? 

What she's not: a white slip Scamper pulled out of the white gray decoration line-up, and accidentally sprayed as if a palomino. Her body slip is tinted a cold eggshell color, almost a greenish tan. She has the same rust color body shading as seen on regular palomino Fillies of her sub-era. The shading and hoof black is even decorated at the same angles and in the same places, so it "feels" like a genuine HR.

The available palomino filly for comparison is a gloss Test, hence the super-rich color.
Look beyond the gloss to the shading directions.

Odd filly compared with an earlier, matte Colt Scamper.

Other examples of HRs with the wrong overspray deco for their slip color are well known and documented. Instead of the wrong body (since the tinted castings all look very similar when dry) being grabbed and decorated as something it's not, I suspect the wrong slip color was grabbed and poured into a Scamper production mold.

Here's the Morgan family mother, Heather in what appears to be a similar coloration:

Owner unknown, photo by author at NAN 2014.

When I saw the above mare in harsh lighting before, I thought she was a white slip casting, factory-goofed as palomino. Without seeing this horse in natural light, I can't tell you if she has the same cold eggshell color of body slip, contrasting with the white legs and mane/tail, as the Scamper. The similarity is pretty uncanny, though.

Wait. In the chart, this Oddity is a full quarter inch smaller in every dimension than her siblings, yet weighs right about the same. How is this possible?

It could be that she over-fired, burning the clay pigment out and shrinking her overall. Her weight would remain because she isn't losing material, just the spaces between clay molecules got tighter and melted together. This idea seems to be supported by her dry, sandy glaze... glaze doesn't absorb well on partially vitrified ware. Her mold features are all there, except no sign of the copyright in the inner thigh, which has been established as the norm. Her airbrushing does appear to be by the same hand that decorated her palomino sisters (brothers were airbrushed in an earlier sub-era).

Here is what over-firing can do to the pigments on an earthenware piece. 

< Normal                  Over-fired >

I tried the vitrification test, and her unglazed dryfooting is resistant to water. A normal Scamper kept a sheen of wet on its dryfooting, but this Filly wouldn't absorb and wiped dry.

Maybe she is a mold reduction at HR? If so, we'd expect to see more small Scamper Fillies turn up. Do you have one?

Or, she might be a Japan copy. I have heard a rumor that a person once-associated with the company went forward with some DW molds to be made overseas, many years ago, against HR's wishes. I have seen very few Asian copy molds as nice as this, and none that matched complex airbrush angles, stroke for stroke.

How about another decoration oddity?

Here is a brown Scamper missing his mane decoration, which could have been confused for a palomino by collectors. This is the Colt version of the mold, and we know that by his mane detail, not just his show tag.

Model courtesy Dawn Sinkovich

Better view of the Test Filly gloss palomino.
No character eyes, and the gloss is tinted yellow, visible in mold grooves.
This model was photographed (before and after restoration) in all three editions of the HR Handbook.

Maybe there was something about gloss and Fillies at HR? Another Test gloss, also a Filly. 
Photo courtesy Ed Alcorn, The Hagen-Renaker On-Line Museum.

Whether they glitter or not, with knobs or nobs, this mold is one of my favorites. It is a great study in animal sculpture. Too often, Scampers get passed up in the show ring because they are grazing, and it's hard to see their faces. Perhaps this will lead to a new appreciation of their variety, even within the mold's most common color: palomino. Do you have a brown or white with even more variations?

Thank you to Jayne Kubas, Ed Alcorn, and Marcia Miner for the use of your models and/or photos!


Benuish, Alison, ed. Hagen-Renaker Research Materials: 1949- Present. N. pag. Salisbury, MD: WMHC, 1995.

Roller, Gayle. Hagen-Renaker: A Charlton Standard Guide. Third Edition. Page 76. The Charlton Press: Palm Harbor, FL, 2003.


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